Much about the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is historic:  it's the oldest school of science and technology in continuous existence in the United States, and it was the first to develop a curriculum in which hands-on experimentation supplemented classroom lectures. While the focus of the institution remains, much has changed since the Rensselaer School was founded in 1824.  One important difference is the current inclusion of women in all types and levels of campus activities.

While the school never had a written policy limiting admission to males, prevailing attitudes created the de facto exclusion of females for nearly 120 years.  This exhibit outlines major events and transitions that have had an impact on the Institute's policies and practices regarding women.  It also highlights some of the many women who have been associated with Rensselaer, and illustrates their accomplishments over the past several decades.

This site is expected to develop continually, and we hope that visitors will contribute additional information and documentation of past and present activities of women at Rensselaer.


This exhibit is based on materials displayed in the Fixman Room of the Archives and Special Collections Department, Folsom Library, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The original exhibit was created by Archives staff in the early 1990s.

The online version of the exhibit has been revised and updated by Automation Archivist Tammy Gobert, with technical assistance from Amalia Widyasanti (scanning, graphics, and Web page production), Kairy Walker (scanning), and Eric Mann (research and documentation).

The project was supported in part by a 1998 grant from Rensselaer's 175th Anniversary Committee.


Each of the archives' online exhibits has been created from a selection of original documents in our collections. In general, many more documents relating to a particular topic can be found in the archives, and viewers are welcome to visit the department to use these materials. Anyone interested in pursuing archival research at Rensselaer, should consult additional online information about the department and its holdings.

People occasionally wonder why we don't scan ALL of our holdings for easy access via the Web. The answer is simple: with Rensselaer's 175 year history, it would take a long time (and considerable resources) to convert the millions of photographs, letters, diaries, minutes, reports, and other items that make up the Institute's documentary past. We will continue to add to our online collections, so visit us often to see what's new.


Visitors to this site should assume that 1) all materials available online are under copyright protection, and 2) you must secure permission for any use of digital files other than viewing them online For additional information, please contact archives staff:

* About * Collections * Institute History * Exhibit Gallery *

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Institute Archives and Special Collections
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY 12180-3590